President Barack Obama should pursue an agreement from Chinese President Hu for significant action on Tibet during the US-China summit, the International Campaign for Tibet said in a letter to President Obama released today.

“If by not meeting [in October 2009] with His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] you intended to signal to General Secretary and President Hu Jintao that you expect an equally significant action from the Chinese government, there are a number of specific objectives that should be pursued,” according to the letter from the ICT Board of Directors.

The letter urges President Obama to pursue two specific initiatives at the summit:

  1. An offer of third party assistance to the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama in defining a common goal for their dialogue, and
  2. An invitation for the Dalai Lama to visit China.

In its first 10 months in office, the Obama Administration has made statements indicating a desire for meaningful results in the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue. It has also expressed its interest in new, creative approaches to resolve intractable issues, such as Tibet. Observers will be watching to see whether the President uses the opportunity of the US-China summit to rise to the challenge that his administration has set for itself.

In September, President Obama sent his Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Under Secretary of State and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero to Dharamsala, India, to confer with the Dalai Lama. It was subsequently revealed that the President and the Dalai Lama would meet sometime after the summit in November, and that the Dalai Lama “would value an opportunity to hear directly from the President about what transpired during the Beijing summit with regard to Tibet,” according to his Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari.

The ICT letter acknowledges the magnanimous approach that the Dalai Lama took to the President’s proposal that they meet only after the US-China summit but aligns itself with the concern expressed by Vaclav Havel (a member of the ICT International Council of Advisors) that what might appear to be a “minor compromise” will in fact lead to further accommodation. “We have always believed that America is essential to progress on Tibet. At the November summit, we urge you to bring the weight of your high office, the will of the American people, and your considerable commitment to human rights, nonviolence and peace to help move ahead on this very important issue,” the ICT letter, signed by ICT Board Chairman Richard Gere, concludes.